community college

Higher Education enrollment continues to decline; admissions officers reveal concerns over early numbers

Higher education enrollment dropped 1.1% between fall 2021 and 2022, a slight reprieve from historic COVID-induced drop-offs, as revealed by new preliminary data from the National Student Clearinghouse. Since fall 2020, enrollment has decreased by a combined 3.2% for graduate and undergraduate enrollment, representing a drop of approximately 1.5 million students since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

DoD announces funding opportunity for STEM Community College Consortium

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) National Defense Education Program is seeking to strategically fund science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at 2-year institutions and community colleges through a consortium approach. DoD is planning five awards ranging between $5 million to $11 million with an aim to enhance the STEM workforce through regional consortia that will develop and encourage STEM ecosystems between 2-year institutions and/or community colleges and 4-year institutions, industry, local education agencies, and others in STEM education.

Applicants sought to address manufacturing workforce inclusion

As the manufacturing sector rebounds, it is expected to need over two million new workers over the next decade to meet supply shortages and increasing demand in sectors such as infrastructure, energy efficiency, and medical equipment. To help recruit and support a more diverse workforce, the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA) and The Century Foundation (TCF) are seeking proposals to participate in the Industry and Inclusion Cohort 2.0, a national initiative focused on community colleges delivering impactful credentials and addressing barriers in manufacturing careers. Impactful credentialing includes credential programs (both non-degree and degree) that are well-aligned and developed in partnership with industry and situated within a broader ecosystem of support partners.

New America seeks to support novel community college workforce development programs

New America has announced a second round of funding for their New Models for Career Preparation program, a project that aims to discover scalable principles that go into creating high-quality, non-degree programs at community colleges. They are seeking six community colleges that are leaders in workforce development to understand the institutional factors that help a community college offer high-quality, non-degree workforce programs that lead to quality jobs. Each will receive $50,000 to support their workforce needs while joining New America’s research and storytelling effort to help community colleges elevate the visibility and maximize the impact of their workforce programs. This will augment an earlier effort that funded six community colleges with specific high-quality, non-degree programs and was done in partnership with the Lumina Foundation. More information, including application instructions on the current program, is available here.

American Families Plan outlines investments for human side of nation’s competitiveness

In 2014, Tennessee’s Republican governor, Bill Haslam, created the nation’s first program to ensure high school graduates could attend community and technical college tuition-free, Tennessee Promise.  While several states have followed suit in one form or another, President Joe Biden wants to take the concept nationwide with the federal government footing $109 billion of the bill through his American Families Plan. Announced during his first address to Congress on April 28, free community college was just one of the proposals outlined that could dramatically alter regional capacities to support innovation, entrepreneurship and competitiveness across the country.

$2.5 million accelerator fund to invest in community colleges

A new Community College Growth Engine Fund is being launched by Education Design Lab to help mitigate the growing skills gap and strengthen community colleges as drivers of innovation between education and employment. Education Design Lab is a national nonprofit that designs, implements and scales new learning models for higher education and the future of work.  With funding from national philanthropies and in partnership with the League for Innovation in the Community College, they will engage a national cohort of community colleges and systems to partner with employers and regional stakeholders. Together they plan to create new pathways to economic mobility and help low-wage and entry-level workers advance into roles that pay at least median wage.

Free tuition offerings continue to evolve in states across the US

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham became the latest governor to propose a plan for free tuition, with what has been called the “one of the most ambitious attempts to make higher education more accessible.” If approved, the plan would allow in-state students to attend any of the 29 state public colleges or universities, regardless of income. It is designed as a “last-dollar” program. If approved, it would be just the second state to offer full tuition coverage to its residents (New York offers the Excelsior scholarship, which will be fully phased in in 2020), according to New Mexico’s governor.

Community colleges named in college excellence program

Two community colleges in Florida became the winners of the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, which recognizes high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. Winners were Indian River State College (IRSC) ($350,000) in Fort Pierce, Florida, and Miami Dade College ($350,000) in Miami; Odessa College and Palo Alto College in Texas and Pierce College in Washington were named as Rising Stars ($100,000 each). The $1 million shared prize is awarded every two years and focuses on student success, looking at institutional performance in four areas: student learning; certificate and degree completion; success after graduation in the labor market and in transfer to four-year institutions; and equity in access and success for students of color and low-income students.

Pathways in overcoming barriers to completion for community college students explored

As the nation faces a tight labor market and industries scramble to find employees with the right skills to fill open positions, community colleges that are closely connected to a region’s economy play a key role in helping to fill that pipeline. However, the challenges facing students at community colleges often result in many not completing a degree or certificate. A report released this month by The Brookings Institution noted that less than 40 percent of community college students earn a certificate or degree within six years of enrollment. The report’s author, Elizabeth Mann Levesque, explored ways to address both structural and motivational barriers in completing community college. The barriers are real, said two community college administrators SSTI spoke with about the problem, yet the successes they see and innovative efforts some community colleges are taking to help their students are beginning to pay off.

NASA awards $1.4M to help minority-serving colleges develop new STEM courses

NASA has indicated it is facing broad, workforce-related challenges that can have a negative impact on programs over the long run; over half of its workforce is more than 50 years old, for instance. One recent announcement from its Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) may be a small step to help address some of those challenges.  MUREP’s Innovations in Space Technology Curriculum (MISTC) program has awarded $1.4 million total to five minority-serving colleges to help develop their STEM courses that will contribute to the preparation, training and development of NASA's future workforce.

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